I'm not going to start worshipping the singularity anytime soon but the information in this book is well worth the read.
I will not be buying any more books by this Author. Ray Kurzweil's "Singularitarianism" is an obsession that seems to have driven him past the point of reason. Repeated use of the words "Inevitable" and "exponential", when he's describing the highly speculative and purely imaginary, leave the listener in a stupor of disbelief: that someone this intelligent could be so convinced of an idea and concept that is patently full of Daydreaming and Wishful Thinking, is simply mind-boggling.
Kurzweil seriously believes our knowledge and technology obey a (fictitious) law of 'accelerating returns' and are approaching the point of Exponential increase. In this he is denying the obvious point that REAL things cannot and do not behave exponentially - whatever curve-fitting analyses one conducts (although if you torture your data long enough it will say anything to make you stop).
ALL real things have speed and replication limits. Things with inertia (including thought, knowledge and ideas, all of which have a kind of inertia) CANNOT increase exponentially.
I also did not enjoy George Wilson's narration because his dry-sounding voice and occasional pronunciation quirks make anything but a short piece a little difficult to listen to. One has the tendency to stop listening to the information in order to repeat and make fun with a weird pronunciation or two every now and then: such as the many many times you hear him say "assem-bully" instead of assembly - just one example. However because of him I now can do a pretty good impression of Walter Cronkite, a voice to which his is quite similar.
The Singularity Is Near has not turned me away from other books in the genre. Any good, intelligently written but OBJECTIVE book on the topics of technology and future prognostication will still be sought after by me. I will simply be more careful to avoid glassy-eyed, immature, wishful thinkers.
George Wilson's narration: I did not enjoy this LONG narration by George Wilson, but something short would not be out of the question.
On the up side, The Singularity Is Near does contain an abundance of news concerning technology and research, and is informative as such. It simply fails in the child-like enthusiasm of the Author for his own unrealistic opinions.
The single most offensive idea Kurzweil relates (aside from the total obliviousness to the immorality of some of the animal-based research he gushes about) is that Artificially Intelligent beings that will eventually arise, according to his thinking, will "of course" not be a threat to humanity because they will "revere us as their honored forebears".
The phrase "vacuously obtuse denialism" comes to mind: Kurzweil has, and offers, no proof or logical argument for this statement. He does say we will simply program AIs to be this way, without a single hint of HOW this can be done, and within a few paragraphs he also says AIs will reprogram themselves at will in order to self-improve. (What, then, is to prevent them from over-riding or deleting "reverence for old biology" from their makeup?? The question is never brought to light).
Even though I do not believe an indpendent, self aware AI will NECESSARILY be a threat, I do not see any reason to believe they will "revere us" either. To adopt childlike innocence based on hopeful/wishful thinking is simply offensive in a grownup, and stupefyingly, gob-smackingly hideous when one sees it in an intelligent man like Kurzweil.
No, I only got through a few hours of this. I love the idea of the Singularity and I have great respect for Kurzweil, but the assertions he is putting forth in this book just seem overstated.
He sounds like a bored professor in a lecture hall. His voice nearly put me to sleep - and this about a topic I find very interesting.
No, I didn't even finish it though.
I would definitely recommend this book to a friend who is into futurist type literature. Its a solid read and Kurzweil has a pretty good track record.Its not for everyone - and its so dry, in places, that I would even venture further to say its not for most folks.
The most interesting aspect of this book is the complete unabashed pursuit of his theories. I mean, this guy is unrelenting. He almost has me buying in. Its still too > for me to wrap my head around, but all of the science is there (for the most part anyway)
The least interesting is the long draw-out lambasting of his critics. Really, I stopped caring after the first 5 minutes. Why do you have to do ON and ON showing how much these folks are wrong. A Simple shout out to your haters would suffice. :) We already bought your book and many of us consider you an expert. No reason to waste our time with 2nd grade antics. but maybe that is just me. I dunno.
At first I hated it. Then I was OK with it. Then I found it endearing. but by the end I was SO ready for the book to be over. I am not sure if it was the narrator or the lambasting of critics(see above)
No extreme reactions. but I don't believe that to be the intent.
I almost don't think I recommend this is an Audible book. Not sure yet, though. there were tons of places where seeing the numbers on paper would help. but then again, the way my time goes, I never would have read this book any other way. So there you have it.
This is a fascinating book. It seems so fantastical, but also very plausible, which sounds contradictory but that is what makes the book amazing. No matter what you come away with, Kurzweil is undeniably brilliant.
The reader is unfortunate as he reminds me of a 1960's grammar school film narrator. Very dry. But I do believe it is worth the listen as the material is so good. Some of Kurzweil's humor manages to slip through, which helps.
In my opinion they should redo the reading with someone with more charisma, as the book is an important one.
The book was well researched but crammed full of too many examples. One example or maybe two is fine for the average technical person. The many many additional samples seemed gratuitous. I get bored easily and this one had it's brilliance dimmed by the desire to fill many pages with a fairly simple concept.
Some interesting concepts were overlooked in the space that was used up by the extensive examples.
If man will become god at some point then why is it assumed another species could not already be a god or God? Will there not be a parallel to racism that will inevitably emerge? What other social aspects for good or ill will play out during the years building up to the singularity? What social and political movements will attempt to control mankind's future using that very technology? How many will die from those attempts?
I wish there was more on the dark side of the singularity. It makes sense there are millions more ways to fall off the happy-path than to stay on it.
Even with the things that bugged me it did catch my imagination somewhat. Being a professional hacker I see things from the perspective of the "dark side" of the singularity- I'd love to be wrong.
its a very interesting book with great insight, just needs a better narrator, or crank the speed up if u can
much better, dont get a dry reader to read a technical book
not until i turned the speed up
i listened to this book at 1x speed on my Android app for the first 5 chapters. it was slow and my mind would wander constantly. i amped it up to 3x and it immediately kept me glued to it. i highly recommend everyone do the same
I am a young-executive with a voracious appetite for great stories. I read and listen constantly, and am very proud of my book collection.
Could have been more effective in a 5 hour book. Way too repetitive.
Sorry, as I have giving a negative review but this was not good.
Who is George Wilson and why is he reading this book? He enunciates words likes he is explaining to three-year-olds, but back in the 1950s when boredom was considered a just punishment of the young. I listened to an hour and realized that I had paid attention to maybe 20 minutes of it. CANNOT continue.
I have read 1000 books. This is my only review. Even if you disagree with all of the massively researched and supported facts about the exponential growth of technology and what it means for the future, this book is worth reading for the shear consciousness expanding descriptions of what we can hope and dream of for humanity. I have yet to find purchase after falling down this rabbit hole 6 months ago. We are desensitized to the incredible, between the B. S. and fiction, it is nearly impossible to believe this could be real. If you do stop to contemplate who this man is, what he has done, and his new job (Google it;), your life may never be the same. He describes a near future that just can't be, but then describes exactly how and when we are going to get there.
So, yea, I recommend this book.